G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for July, 2011

Indoor Air Quality Options

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Maintaining high indoor air quality is always worth investing time and money in. After all, if the air inside your home isn’t healthy, it can cause all kinds of health problems for you and your family. The state of the art home heating and cooling systems we have today make it possible to enjoy a perfectly temperature controlled indoor environment all year long, but they also trap indoor air pollutants and contaminants inside without proper ventilation.

Choosing a System that Works

Luckily there are a number of great products out there designed to remove these pollutants before they cause you and your family discomfort or illness. Before you run out to buy a new system, however, you should first consider what each has to offer and what pollutants you need to remove. You might have some idea about this already, but the best thing to do is talk to a professional who can help assess your indoor air and determine which types of contaminants are most prevalent in your home.

Different types of indoor air cleaners are better at targeting different types of contaminants. For instance, HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of particulate contaminants that measure 0.3 microns or larger. This includes things like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and mold spores, so if these are the things you want to target, an indoor air system that uses HEPA filters is probably right for you.

However, if you’re more concerned with getting rid of smoke odors and cooking fumes, you probably want a system that targets even smaller particles. Air ionizers are more appropriate for these types of indoor air quality issues, as they can effectively remove much smaller particles than most HEPA filters. On the flip side, ionizers aren’t as efficient at removing the larger contaminant particles, so if you want to target both small and large contaminants, you need a system that combines both of these technologies.

Bacteria and viruses are also a problem when they find their way into your indoor air and they can be particularly tricky to get rid of. HEPA filters and air ionizers both have trouble completely eradicating these pathogens, but UV germicidal lights can be incorporated into your indoor air cleaning system to tackle biological contaminants effectively.

No matter what type of home air quality problem you have, there is a system on the market that will target and remove the pollutant. The key is to know which pollutants effect you the most and which products will do the best job of removing them from your home.

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What Is a Whole House Pressurization Test and Should I Get One?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

If you have a forced air heating or cooling system in your home, you also have a system of ducts through which that heated or cooled air circulates. And most people don’t give a second though to those ducts. After all, if your heating and cooling systems are working, the ducts must be doing their job, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If ducts are not working properly, the whole system will be in trouble, even when you don’t realize there is a problem. That’s why a pressurization test is so important – it provides peace of mind knowing that your home’s ductwork is not only properly installed, but that it doesn’t need any special repairs.

Why Pressure Matters

Your duct system depends on proper pressurization to evenly and efficiently distribute air throughout your home. Leaks, cracks or clogs in the system can disrupt that pressure and lead to uneven or inadequate movement of air through your ducts. This causes problems you may not notice, so if you haven’t had your ducts checked for proper pressure in a while, it’s worth looking into.

Improper pressurization causes symptoms like hot or cold spots in your home or an overall drop in the effectiveness of your home heating and cooling system. When loss of pressure is due to a leak that lets in unfiltered air from outdoors it can also lead to a decrease in indoor air quality. Often these symptoms are easy to ignore. But by doing so, you only allow the situation to get worse.

A whole house pressurization test is the best way to determine the state of your home duct system. By using high tech diagnostic equipment, home HVAC professionals check over your entire system to determine whether you have a pressurization problem. If so they can then quickly pinpoint the source. Once that’s done, the repairs are usually quite simple and you’ll get much more out of your home heating and cooling system than you did before.

Even if no symptoms of improper pressurization in your ducts have presented themselves, it’s worth having one of these tests performed. Especially if you don’t know when the system was last checked, a whole house pressurization test can help uncover small problems before they turn into bigger ones. And the peace of mind this provides is well worth the day it takes to perform the test.

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Mold…What if I Have Mold?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

No one wants to find mold. But, even if you’re not aware of it, mold is probably lurking somewhere in the damp, dark crevices of your home. And mold is particularly likely to grow in homes with improperly regulated humidity. Luckily, because we know that, there are quite a few things we can do to stop the growth of mold in its tracks and save your home from unsafe air quality and the damaging effects of those little spores.

The Dangers of Mold

As mold grows, it can do damage to your woodwork and other areas of your home. It also contributes to indoor air quality issues because mold spores are a significant indoor air contaminant. Many people are allergic to mold spores, so if you or someone else in your household has experienced allergy symptoms that you can’t explain, mold spores are a likely culprit.

If you find out there is mold in your home, don’t panic just yet. There are some things you can do to address the problem and get mold out of your house for good. Your main task will be getting rid of the mold that is already there. This isn’t necessarily easy because of the areas mold tends to grow in. But, even with the proper air quality treatment, your home and health is still at risk if you don’t target that existing mold fast.

Stopping Mold in Its Tracks

Just getting rid of existing mold won’t solve the problem, though. Mold keeps coming back as long as there is an environment to support it – and that means moisture. Mold requires water to grow, so the chances are that if you have a mold problem in your home, you also have a humidity problem. Getting your indoor humidity under control will make it much easier to remove and keep mold out of your home for good.

There are plenty of good humidification systems on the market today. They can be easily integrated into your home heating and cooling system and provide great, consistent humidity control. Make sure you get one that’s large enough for your home. An indoor air quality professional can help you make that determination. Once you have a good humidification system in place, you’ll notice a huge difference in your overall indoor air quality, and hopefully the problem won’t return anytime soon.

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Worst Rooms in Your Home to Collect Allergens

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Your home is a haven for allergens, but some rooms in particular are much worse than others. They are damp. They are warm. They often have garbage in them. These are the rooms that need especially close attention when trying to maintain air quality in your home.

Basement

First on the list is your basement. A basement is the biggest problem when it’s either unfinished or not used very often. If you have water leaks in your basement or poor insulation, it’s important to have a moisture barrier put in and have your pipes checked. If the water comes from a drainage pipe or your sewer line, repairs can be made. If it comes from excess ground water or leaks in the foundation, a sump pump or drain tile system will help remove the excess water. Either way, the wetter your basement gets, the higher the risk of mold and other contaminants becomes.

Beyond moisture, a basement tends to collect a lot of dust. After all, it is where we put many of our old and unwanted possessions, and because the furnace is often in your basement, all that damp, allergen filled air gets cycled back into your home.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are allergen havens for two reasons. They are filled with moisture, and without proper ventilation they will soon be filled with mold and mildew. Additionally, when not cleaned regularly they can house buildups of hair, skin, and other dust building residue that tend to trigger allergies.

The easiest way to handle this problem is to clean your bathroom regularly and make sure it is properly ventilated. Short of an exhaust fan in your bathroom, keep the door and windows open to help it dry faster.

Kitchen

Your kitchen produces allergens like mold and mildew due to the presence of garbage and fruit. It can also attract bugs and the dirt that accrues from people passing through constantly. Pets tend to eat in the kitchen, leaving behind dander. Additionally, plants and vegetables in the kitchen release pollen that circulates through your home to trigger additional allergies. Exhaust from cooking and smoke can also be a harmful allergen trigger.

The kitchen should be kept well ventilated and clean at all times. Check for any gaps in your insulation and have your exhaust fan and hood cleaned regularly to avoid backups of smoke or gas.

Allergens are everywhere in your home – with careful attention, however, you can stop them from affecting your family negatively.

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What is a Whole House Fan?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Cooling your home is a big deal. Especially if the temperature in your home is generally very high in the summer, the cost of air conditioning is tremendous. A central air conditioner can cost between $2,000 and $4,000 to run for an average 2,800 square foot home over the course of six months. That’s a lot of electricity just to stay cool.

That’s why a whole house fan is a great option for those that want to forego the use of direct air conditioning for at least part of the year.

What It Does

A whole house fan is different from a standard air conditioner because it doesn’t use a heat exchanger to remove heat from air before it enters your home. That heat exchanger is the culprit for a large percentage of an air conditioner’s energy consumption. A whole house fan can be used when the temperature outside is lower than inside, a common occurrence on moderate days in the summer.

The whole house fan draws air and then cycles it through your air vents without cooling it. The act of moving air through your home, however, is often enough to cool the space to a comfortable level. The size of your whole house fan depends on quite a few things. First, how big is your home? Large homes that require even cooling need a larger fan to draw in air. However, small homes can often get away with models that use as little as 120 Watts of electricity. That’s less than your computer uses.

Choosing a Fan for Your Home

Keep in mind that a whole house fan only works when the temperature outside is lower than inside. If the air outside is excessively humid or if it is very warm in the hottest months of summer, you will still need an air conditioning unit. But, even if you run your air conditioner for two months out of the year, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money in the other four months by operating a whole house fan.

Whole house fans should be used in conjunction with an effective air purification system to ensure all outdoor contaminants are effectively removed before they are cycled through your house. They also require the same level of maintenance and cleaning as a normal AC system. However, with the right care, they work wonders to cut down on your energy bill.

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